Train collision: Two sisters came from Germany for a funeral and died in Tempi

A makeshift memorial Sunday for the victims of a train collision in northern Greece. Sakis Mitrolidis / AFP - Getty Images

Another shocking and tragic story about the train collision in Larissa has come to light.

Two sisters were on the train that collided in Larissa. The two women lived for years in Germany and had come to Greece to attend the funeral of their cousin, but also to see their brother.

Their brother, speaking to SKAI, said that Evangelia and Chrysoula had come to Athens for the funeral. Returning from Athens, they entered the train to Thessaloniki - in the first carriage - and from there they would go to Germany, while he returned by road to Agrinio.

"I got a call from some acquaintances from Germany that they tried to contact my sisters and they didn't succeed. They told me they saw on the news about an accident and that's when I started looking for information," he said.

"I saw that the train should have arrived in Thessaloniki and then found out that there was a 1.5 hour delay. Then I understood that the train that my sisters were on was the fatal one.

"The victims, the dead and the injured are asking for justice. The relatives and friends of the victims are demanding justice.

"In the first phase we have to say goodbye to our loved ones and we have to make a decision that we will not see them again. Then we'll see about the rest.

"I'm disappointed with the company.  They should have come out and informed us from the first second."

Meanwhile, the stationmaster accused of causing Greece’s deadliest train disaster was charged with negligent homicide and jailed pending trial, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologised for any responsibility Greece’s government may bear for the tragedy.

An examining magistrate and a prosecutor agreed that multiple counts of homicide as well as charges of causing bodily harm and endangering transportation safety should be brought against the railway employee.

At least 57 people, many of them in their teens and 20s, were killed when a northbound passenger train and a southbound freight train collided late Tuesday north of the city of Larissa, in central Greece.

The 59-year-old stationmaster allegedly directed the two trains traveling in opposite directions onto the same track. He spent 7 1/2 hours on Sunday testifying about the events leading up to the crash before he was charged and ordered held.

“My client testified truthfully, without fearing if doing so would incriminate him,” Stephanos Pantzartzidis, the stationmaster’s lawyer, told reporters. “The decision (to jail him) was expected, given the importance of the case.”

train collision greece

Pantzartzidis implied that others besides his client share blame, saying that judges should investigate whether more than one stationmaster should have been working in Larissa at the time of the collision.

“For 20 minutes, he was in charge of (train) safety in all central Greece,” the lawyer said of his client.

Greek media have reported that the automated signaling system in the area of the crash was not functioning, making the stationmaster’s mistake possible. Stationmasters along that part of Greece’s main trunk line communicate with each other and with train drivers via two-way radios, and the switches are operated manually.

The prime minister promised a swift investigation of the collision and said the new Greek transportation minister would release a safety improvement plan.

train collision February 28, 2023. Larissa ukraine

Once a new parliament is in place, a commission also will be named to investigate decades of mismanagement of the country’s railway system, Mitsotakis said.

Mitsotakis said last week that the crash resulted from a “tragic human error.” Opposition parties pounced on the remark, accusing the prime minister of trying to cover up the state’s role and making the inexperienced stationmaster a scapegoat.

“I owe everyone, and especially the victims’ relatives, a big apology, both personal and on behalf of all who governed the country for many years,” Mitsotakis wrote Sunday on Facebook.

“In 2023, it is inconceivable that two trains move in different directions on the same track and no one notices. We cannot, we do not want to, and we must not hide behind the human error.”

train collision February 28, 2023.

A retired railway union leader, Panayotis Paraskevopoulos, told Greek newspaper Kathimerini that the signaling system in the area monitored by the Larissa stationmaster malfunctioned six years ago and was never repaired.

READ MORE: Train collision: The three cousins from Kalambaka recently became godmothers - a chapel in honour of their memory instead of a funeral.

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